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Decollectivization and rural poverty in post-mao China: A critique of the conventional wisdom

Zhaochang Peng, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation is a study of the consequences of decollectivization (1978-1984) in rural China, a fundamental institutitional change that replaced Maoist collective economy with the Household Responsibility System, for the conditions of Chinese rural poverty. It first examines how decollectivization reshaped the spheres of prodution, exchange and distribution in Chinese rural economy, and discovers that it produced some adverse impacts on poverty reduction in rural China. The author then conducts a critical evaluation of official rural poverty statistics and reestimates the post-1978 Chinese rural poverty reduction performance. The results show that Chinese rural poverty might not have been reduced by much, or even worse, might well have increased since decollectivization. The research findings presented in this dissertation challenge the conventional wisdom that decollectization made a great contribution to poverty reduction in rural China. This dissertation study has an implication for poverty studies: institutional changes that seem to work well in generating economic growth may not work for promoting poverty reduction.^

Subject Area

Asian studies|Economics

Recommended Citation

Peng, Zhaochang, "Decollectivization and rural poverty in post-mao China: A critique of the conventional wisdom" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3603137.